Saturday, 20 August 2011

This Is What We Have Come To

Here's nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman proposing that the global economy can be revived via faking an alien invasion. It's proof that the system of economic thought known as Keynesianism has gone far beyond John Maynard Keynes' original proposal to maintain surpluses in times of prosperity in order to boost aggregate demand during recessions, and has simply become another form of Faustianism, our underlying yearning for expansion into infinity.

It's also proof that there is no hope. Our civilisation's delusions run too deep to be challenged and/or reformed. History's maw awaits us as we dream ever-wilder dreams of salvation.

11 comments:

W. Kasper said...

Every time I'm about to say "oh Phil - don't be so pessimistic!" I look out the window and correct myself by slapping my own face - like the baldy one from the 3 Stooges.

Considering how much I thought of 'Watchmen' during 9-11 (alien meta-threat to frighten and rally a fractured society into submission), the more I think the Pentagon could be seriously researching ways to manufacture an extraterrestrial menace. To distract a society that's already got an awful lot to be scared of. You could blame every disaster on 'em - from environmental catastrophe to energy crises to military fuck-ups. You could also identify enemies according to their collaboration with aliens. Religious fanaticism, social divisions and state power could be justified in the name of species survival. Imagine the profit potential you could wring out of it too. People would pay anything to keep the tripods at bay.

Yes, cranky millenial thinking, but watch this space in 2021. The War on Terror wasn't that successful inspiring patriotic fever really - most of us are too enclosed/partisan/individualistic regarding our own interests. But aliens? You could unite a whole world crying for tuff solutions from the only guys with enough weapons to sort it out!

Phil Knight said...

I kind of agree with Dave Cohen about what's really behind Krugman's alien idea - it's that what he's thinking of in terms of stimulus is World War Three (he certainly seems to speak approvingly of the second one), only it's a bit distasteful to openly say so.

It's kind of Baconianism gone mad - the ultimate purpose of our existence is to support an invented metric (GDP), and there are simply no holds barred in what policy options are proposed to do it.

As for the Pentagon etc., I'm actually surprised that they still deal in old-fashioned strategic notions of success - I don't know why they don't just measure "success" using econometrics (e.g. gooks killed/bullets fired). Therefore they can always "win", and always have an excuse for war ("we need to improve our metrics").

W. Kasper said...

That's a weird thing about a few liberal types like Krugman - worshipping Roosevelt for entering a total war that killed 100 million people and led to the nuclear arms race, with loads of 'smaller' neverending wars overseen by a massive military empire, as though it was the only possible way for the west to ever be 'moderate'. Like it was all worth it for three decades of Keynesianism in a few select places (which ain't never coming back).

The west will never again have a war won decisively with millions dancing in the homeland's streets. Just ongoing 'empire burlesque' until bankruptcy and energy depletion grinds it down. By then, the damage and death will have led to even more little wars across the globe.

Phil Knight said...

Correctamundo.

But just think of the opportunities we're going to have to compile statistics!

Phil Knight said...

We have lift off:

http://beginningofinfinity.com/

W. Kasper said...

Something tells me if it was called "That's All Folks!" it would connect with the public a bit more...

Tetris: The Musical said...

What's really depressing about the current economic situation is that it could be solved quite easily with some straightforward and not particularly radical policies:

Slash defence spending, and invest that money in more labour intensive causes that would actually benefit the general population.

Higher tax rates for the rich, most of their money is being hoarded anyway.

National banks that could lend to small businesses at low interest rates.

Legalisation of soft drugs, which wwould raise tax revenue and cut the cost of housing thousands of non-violent prisoners.

Investment in precision, high-tech manufacturing that can't be outsourced to poorer countries.

These would all be pretty middle of the road policies as recently as 30 years ago, but it seems neoliberalism has thrown any hope for rational solutions out of the window.

W. Kasper said...

The oligarchy just decided to deal with peak oil and global warming by grabbing everything they can and telling 95% of the world's population to go fuck themselves. Seems to be going according to plan so far... even quite popular with an awful lot of non-oligarchs. HMV's full of games, movies, books and CDs telling us it'll be a kewl way to live.

Phil Knight said...

Yeah, but what you have to remember is that much of the oligarchy's wealth is fictional - stocks, bonds, CDO's, CDS's, even fiat currency. This will all disappear eventually, and there will be a lot of "formerly wealthy" people who will find the transition difficult to cope with.

How many of the Roman oligarchy survived the end of Rome? None.

W. Kasper said...

well they do seem to be aiming for the 'rentier' system (tariffs, copyrights, debt repayments forever etc) - doesn't mean it'll 'work' though. It'll likely be disastrous. It'll need a lot of war to untangle it.

Ed said...

Paul Krugman is an indie kid!

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/01/galaxy-of-music-personal-note/?smid=tw-NytimesKrugman&seid=auto